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Authors: Andy Slayde,Ali Wilde

Tags: #Gay Romance

Just Lucky that Way

BOOK: Just Lucky that Way
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Just Lucky That Way

By Andy Slayde & Ali Wilde

 

Dedication:

 

Sue and Tania for awesome beta-reading skills, Eric for catching all the Aussie-isms, Jordan Castillo-Price for letting us borrow her and her novel.

 

Chapter One

 

Friday July 2, 2010

West Summerset, New York

 

"Just wanna thank you in advance for helping clean the beast when we get back." Zed pushed his hair out of his eyes again and carefully negotiated the pot-holed dirt track that led to Phil's farm. "I told you a Mustang was not going to get here in one piece. We shoulda rented a fucking truck."

"It's not that bad." Alex laughed. "Stop being a baby."

"How about next time we go bush bashing, we take the Viper? Your Precious," Zed retorted, knowing damn well that Alex hated even taking his shiny black car to the shopping mall.

"No way in Hell is my Precious going to be exposed to dirt." Alex stretched, his back arching against the Mustang's seat. "But I'll help you clean your baby."

"That's a foregone conclusion." Zed looked at Alex, admiring his man -- even if he was annoyed at said man -- and hit a pot-hole. The steering wheel wrenched out of his hand, and Alex bumped his head on the low roof.

"Ouch!" Alex rubbed his head. "Keep your eyes on the road."

"Keepyoureyesontheroad," Zed mimicked and rolled his eyes. "Like I'd have done that on purpose. Yes, Mom." His wrist ached a little, too, but Alex was right. He really should be paying attention on a track like this. "What possessed Phil to buy a run-down farm anyway? And what possessed you to offer our help to renovate it? In the middle of summer." Only the slight breeze made the day bearable.

"He's a friend, and he needs the help. They'd do the same for us."

"We'd hire professional contractors." Yep, it definitely helped having wealthy parents.

"How about the promise of a two day party, then? Where we can make as much noise as we like, drink 'til we fall down, and not have to drive home?" Alex suggested.

"Ah, that'd be it." Zed loved a good party -- or a bad party, come to think of it. "It's gonna be great seeing everyone again. Travis is bringing fireworks -- enough for the Fourth."

"And my birthday."

"Your birthday?" Zed dead-panned. "When's your birthday?"

"Ha ha, very funny. Hope you're not planning on having sex ever again."

"Yeah, right. You'd be begging me within seconds." Zed grinned and looked sideways at Alex, catching sight of the farm between the trees lining the track. "Is that it?"

"Yep, that's it. Did you think Phil was joking about the renovating? Trust me, it looks good from here." Alex gazed out the window. "It'll be awesome once it's done."

Doubtful of that, Zed turned up a dirt driveway -- only slightly less bumpy than the track -- and parked the Mustang with the other cars. "Looks like we're sleeping close," he stated, as he caught sight of four tents near a burned out fire-pit. "I might have to gag you."

"It's been ages since we camped. End of high school, remember? It'll be fun."

"I remember you wouldn't even let me kiss you... well, except that once. Definitely no gags involved." Zed hurried out the car.

"Well I might let you do more than kiss me this time." Alex exited the car and walked over to Zed.

"You will; I have a gag at the ready." Zed looked around and popped the trunk. "Where is everyone?"

Alex scanned the area. "They're probably out back or in one of the barns or something."

Zed pulled the rolled up tent, their bags and sleeping bags from the trunk and left them by the car. "Here, take your other Precious." Zed handed Alex his sketch pad and held his hand out. "Let's go and find them."

Alex took Zed's hand and laced their fingers. "Let's check behind the house."

Zed pulled Alex closer. "Let's not, and say we did." All that talk of sex had him remembering he hadn't had any since that morning. "Al-fresco sex... It's warm enough."

"I'm not going to traumatize our friends." Alex took a step back, distancing himself from Zed. "C'mon, they'll be wondering where we are."

"Spoilsport," Zed muttered and hurried after Alex, who had taken off up to the house -- a generous description if there ever was one. Slipping his hand into Alex's again, he said, "Surely they're going to rebuild."

"It's a great house." Alex gestured to rundown, red-brick building. "It was built in the 1800s. It's structurally sound, just needs some TLC."

"It needs knocking down and rebuilding." Zed sometimes wondered if Alex looked at everything with an artistic eye. The place looked great for drawing but not for living in. "No windows there, no door, and a hole in the roof, shingles about to fall on any unsuspecting door-to-door salesman." Not to mention the ivy taking over the left corner, the garden of weeds growing up through the slate on the stoop, and the once beautiful garden over-run with brambles, weeds and creepers.

"That can all be fixed." Alex shrugged. "They don't make 'em like this anymore. It's a piece of history."

"Only history if something happened here. If not, it's just another falling down house," Zed stated. "Hey, there's Rhys. Rhys!"

Rhys stopped and turned, a smile lighting his handsome features. He started towards Zed and Alex. "Wondered when you were going to get here. Everyone's over the other side of the house. It's cool, huh?"

As it was Rhys' brother, Phil, who owned the farm, Zed thought he'd better keep his honest opinion between him and Alex. He nodded, thinking that everyone but him was crazy. That made a change.

"Hi, Rhys. It's a great house. I'll be sketching it later."

Rhys laughed. "Kitty's already been photographing the place from every angle. And getting the gorgeous Travis in as many shots as possible."

"How many turned up?" Zed asked as they walked around the house to the yard.

Rhys shrugged. "Nine, if you count Phil and Tania. Plenty of hands."

"Cool, we can go home then." Zed glanced sideways at Alex, but knew they'd be staying to help. Alex was honorable, and once he gave his word to do something, it stayed given. Even if this renovation was going to interrupt Alex's viewing of the World Cup. No doubt he'd find a way of listening to it; Phil was a big soccer fan, as well.

"You're not going to complain the whole week, are you?" Alex asked.

"Not if I get what I want." Zed fluttered his eyelashes, giving the best impression of a spoiled femme-fatale that he knew how, and laughed. "Relax, love. It's all good. Sun's shining; we're gonna party all night. A little hard work won't kill me."

"Let's get started then." Alex gestured toward Rhys. "Lead the way; we'll pitch the tent later."

"You could share with me," Rhys said. "I have a four man tent, and only me."

"Thanks, but no," Zed said quickly. He'd never get sex if they shared with Rhys, and he didn't even want to think about any other problems that might arise. And threesomes? Not a hope in Hell. Alex belonged to Zed. No one else was touching Alex. Zed vowed that he'd never be stoned enough to repeat last Christmas.

They rounded the corner of the sprawling farmhouse to find their friends busy at work. Travis, Blake, and Jon -- shirtless and hotter than Zed remembered -- were digging holes and a trench. They might look buff, but Zed would bet they'd be sore tomorrow. There was a big difference between working out in the gym and real manual labor. Kitty was weeding an area that could be a flower bed or a small herb garden, off the side of the house, while the other girls, Mel and Becca, were painting doors -- off their hinges and leaning against a fence -- a lemon yellow. Phil was in a large fenced off area, fixing what looked to be a chicken coop.

"Come on, Rhys," Phil called. "This is a two man job. Oh, hey Alex, Zed." He raised his hammer in salute.

"See, plenty to do," Rhys said. "There's junk to be cleared, fruit trees to be pruned, and that barn needs cleaning out." He indicated a large, battered barn before loping back to his job helping Phil.

Phil's wife, Tania, emerged from the house. "Zed, Alex, lovely to see you."

"Hi, Tania." Alex walked over and hugged her. "How are you? It's been too long."

"It has. I haven't seen you since you... since this scoundrel took you off the market." She laughed.

"I do what I can." Zed laughed, too.

"I think you made a lot of girls very angry. Can I get you two anything to drink before I put you to work?" Tania asked. "We have lots of beer."

"Thanks, a couple of beers'll be great."

"Might as well call it lunch time," Tania said. "Looks like they've all just noticed your arrival."

"Perfect timing." Alex grinned.

Travis dropped his shovel and picked up his shirt to mop his face. "Alex! Zed! About time you got here," he yelled across the lawn. "I think it's time for a quick 'cooling off in the pond' break."

With a whoop, Travis grabbed Kitty around the waist and carried her, kicking and yelling about her hair and shoes, into the woods at the end of the yard. Jon, Blake and Phil followed, laughing and shouting encouragement to Travis, with Mel running after them and shouting how she was going to rescue Kitty.

"Coming guys?" Rhys locked his eyes with Zed's and took two steps backwards. "You gotta be hot after that drive."

Zed shook his head, laughing at the blatant flirting from Rhys, and turned to Alex, grabbing his hand. "C'mon, let's--"

But Alex was watching Becca, who was walking up to him; perfect hair, perfect smile fixed in place, and a perfect smear of yellow paint on her perfect cheek, which Alex ineffectively brushed his thumb over before kissing her on the tip of her perfect nose. "You look great, Bec."

She dimpled prettily. "Thank you. Hi, Zed."

"Hi, Becca. How's life?"

"It's great," Becca enthused. She was one of those girls that delighted in everything she did. Studying to become a pediatrician was typical of something she'd do. As long as she was helping with children. "I'm starting an internship at Albany Medical Center in a couple of weeks."

"Awesome." Zed liked Becca. He'd taken her to the high school prom as a favor to Alex, who was dating her best friend at the time. She'd taken the news that Zed was gay well -- considering he hadn't told her until after the prom -- and then started dating Alex after he'd broken up with Lauren. Needless to say, the girls weren't friends any more.

"I'm going for a swim," Becca said. "Coming?" Her eyes looked from Zed to Alex. "I need to cool off and see if I can get rid of the paint."

 

***

 

By the time Alex, Zed, and Becca arrived at the pond, the guys were splashing about -- much to the annoyance of the girls who were trying to sun themselves on the floating deck in the middle.

Alex sat on the grass, his aquaphobia keeping him a safe distance from the water's edge, and opened his sketch book.

"Aren't you coming in?" Becca asked as she stripped down to her skimpy bikini.

"Nah, not this time."

"Oh yeah, sorry. Forgot." Becca blushed. "We probably won't be in there long anyway. Lunch will be ready soon." She nudged Zed. "Race ya."

Zed stripped off his T-shirt but, due to his love of going commando, left his cargo shorts on. "You don't mind?"

"Not at all. Go have fun."

"Okay, won't be long." Zed dropped a kiss on top of Alex's head and took off after Becca, who was already swimming out to the floating deck. "Thought you wanted to get the paint off?"

"That's more fun with someone to help," Becca retorted as she climbed onto the deck. "Catching some sun sounds good about now."

"Haven't you been in the sun all morning?"

Becca rolled her eyes. "That's different."

Zed laughed and nodded. He understood. But, as tempting as it was to join the girls, there were boys to dunk and roughhouse with. So, after splashing at least half the pond over the girls, Zed duck-dived under the surface, blocking out the screeches and death threats. He swam over to the guys and pulled Travis' shorts off before surfacing behind Rhys.

"Zed!" Travis stopped trying to dunk Blake. "Gimme my shorts back. What would Alex think?"

BOOK: Just Lucky that Way
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